If a police officer has probable cause to stop you because he suspects you are driving while intoxicated, there are certain tests he will require that you perform before he will make an arrest. He may ask you to perform some field sobriety tests. He may ask you to submit to a breath, blood or urine test. In Ohio, it is implied that you have consented to any of these tests when you were issued a valid driver’s license.
Drivers truly do not want to fail OVI/DUI field sobriety tests. Sobriety tests, by definition, are batteries of tests (usually three) that are requested of a driver when stopped by a police officer during a traffic stop, to determine if the drive is driving while intoxicated. These tests are (1) the horizontal gaze nystagmus; (2) the walk and turn; and (3) the one leg stand. There may be others, but these three are the standard field tests. These tests were originally developed in the 1970s and were admissible in court as evidence. However, these field sobriety tests have come under fire as being flawed and unreliable to prove intoxication.
There are a number of reasons why a person may fail one of these tests that have nothing to do with whether the driver is intoxicated or not, for instance. People that are overweight or have physical ailments may have trouble performing these tests.
The breathalyzer is also used to test whether an individual is intoxicated when stopped for a possible OVI/DUI. This test analyses the breath gases exhaled, and can give an indirect value of an individual’s BAC. This device, however, while convenient for the arresting officer to use while out in the field, has its flaws. Unless the breathalyzer is frequently calibrated, it may give a false reading.
The use of blood tests may be the most accurate of the various tests used. With that said, unless the blood samples have been properly preserved, they too can lead to false readings.
One other test, the urine test, is less accurate that either the breath or the blood tests. For that reason the urine test is usually a test of last resort.
Ohio’s “implied consent” law comes with the issuance of your driver’s license. It states that if you are suspected of driving under the influence, and you are stopped by an officer who has probable cause to believe you are intoxicated, you have consented to take a blood, breath or urine test for purposes of determining what your BAC is. See Ohio’s implied consent law in the Ohio Revised Code 4511.191, and “physical control of a vehicle,” Ohio Revised Code 4511.194.
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